Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quietly evoking curiosity

This Norman Rockwell painting caught my attention because it is printed on the top of a picnic basket owned by my parents. But I think that it may also brilliantly capture the spirit of office missionary work.

The two men on the left exhibit obvious curiosity. What has evoked it? The woman and boy are not speaking to the men. They are not doing anything with fast movements or energetic outbursts. But by their actions, they have put forth something unexpected in the restaurant. They have made their faith attractive. They have not thrust it upon anyone. But by their example, they have offered it for others to see and consider.

This painting reminds me of St. Francis' familiar emphasis on the power of one's example. "Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words." But it also reminds me of one of my favorite's exhortations of Pope John Paul II. "We must never impose, but always propose Christ."

By praying for their food, by quietly but distinctly allowing their faith to be seen, have this boy and woman not proposed Christ to whom they are praying?

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